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What careers study animal behaviour

We’ve all wondered at one point or another: what is my pet actually thinking? Animal behaviour – what motivates our animals to do what they do – is a fascinating topic. Sometimes, we seem to instinctively know what our furry (or not so furry) companions are trying to say. Other times…not so much. And this applies doubly to wildlife!

If you’re interested in understanding animal behaviour, it’s possible you’re also interested in pursuing it seriously as a career. But what if you’re unsure where to start? How can you shape this interest in animal behaviour into a fulfilling and rewarding career?

In this blog, we’re going to break down several areas that encompass the study of animal behaviour and psychology. So you can take your first steps toward forging a career in animal welfare and conservation.

What is animal behaviour/animal psychology?

Put simply, animal psychology is the study of what factors cause specific behaviours in animals and the influences that can change them. Here, the interaction between animals, their environment and humans is both observed and studied; the visible movements and reactions in animals to different stimulation is likewise noted and assessed.

By studying animal behaviour, we are given clues about how hunting, illness, mating, caring for young, falling ill and living as a predator/prey affect an animal’s psychology. 

Importantly, understanding how and why animals act the way they do is key to ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare can be met, both for domestic and wild animals. It also helps us to continue work towards conserving our beautiful wildlife and their habitats. 

Teaching others how to best look after and care for their pets, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the world around us, are just some of the benefits of studying animal behaviour and psychology.

animal behaviour infographic

Animal psychology careers

There is a range of career specialisms where having in-depth knowledge of animal behaviour and psychology is essential. Let’s take a look at some of them!


  • Animal Caretaker

Zoos, aquariums and conservation groups require individuals who deeply understand animal behaviour. Caretakers work in indoor and outdoor settings to feed and groom animals, clean their enclosures and monitor their health and wellbeing. They are responsible for the diet, exercise, safety and enrichment of the animals in these facilities. Zookeepers, specifically, are involved in studying animal behaviour in a very hands-on and direct way day-to-day.


  • Veterinary Assistant

Veterinary assistants are usually the first point of contact for animal owners and their pets when they arrive at the vet’s office. As animals may be distressed when they arrive, it’s important for a veterinary assistant to understand animal behaviour to identify how best to handle the animal in their care. They are also responsible for pre and post surgery care of the animal, such as feeding, bathing, medicating and carrying out routine lab work on animals.


  • Animal Trainer

Training domestic animals (including companion, farm and zoo animals) requires a thorough knowledge of animal’s behaviour. Using learned techniques, animal trainers help the animal to modify their behaviour or direct it as needed. They can either hold classes at a rented venue or carry out home visits to support owners. 


  • Pet Store Workers

Pet store workers aid customers, answering questions about animals and providing advice on aspects such as nutrition, enrichment and training. They look after the wellbeing of the pets for sale and maintain the hygiene of enclosures or cages, overall ensuring that animals are kept healthy before going to their forever home. The number of pet stores continues to rise as more people decide to invite a pet into their lives, a trend that shows no signs of slowing as working from home becomes more common post-pandemic.


  • Animal Control Officers

Public authorities employ animal control officers to enforce the laws on animal care and treatment. This can mean rescuing and investigating the protection of animals in domestic situations. So being able to recognise the behaviour of animals that are sick, stray, diseased or injured is fundamental for this job. Animal Control Officers make decisions about transporting animals to shelter, the vet or an agency, and/or investigates animal ownership. They collect fees for animal licences and adoption.


  • Government and Private Research

Government agencies, private environmental consulting firms and conservation groups hire animal behaviourists to carry out research. In particular these groups observe changes to an animals’ habitat and how it affects foraging and reproduction, tracking and assessing wider implications on local environments and make recommendations on how to contain or reduce any negative impacts. On-going behaviour research is carried out to help design, perform and analyse programmes that can be put in place to improve outcomes and how we manage animal and wildlife care.

animal psychology careers infographic

Animal behaviour courses outlook

A recent study conducted by our neighbours in Australia provided insights on the main skills needed in the animal care and management sector, which included animal awareness and behaviour skills and emotional intelligence of animal skills. 

As pet ownership has risen over the pandemic, careers in the animal behaviour field are sure to remain popular over the coming months and years. Overall, the animal care industry is only expected to grow, with the role of pets in our lives as valued companions gaining wider recognition.

If you’re interested in working in animal behaviour, then there has never been a better time to join this field. And you’ll be delighted to hear we offer a range of  online courses in animal studies to get you started! 

Designed to take you from eager beginner all the way to professional, our courses in Wildlife & Animals cover subjects such as: animal studies, reptile conservation, equine studies, dog grooming, bird care, cat care and training, dog care and training, marine studies, animal welfare, equine business, wildlife veterinary assistance, equine care, wildlife conservation and management, animal care and several zoology specialisms. 

With an animal behaviour course, there’s something to suit every level of learning and type of animal you’re interested in working with. If you’re unsure about where to begin, you can contact our course consultants who’ll be able to help identify the perfect subject of study for you

Created to be accessible and affordable, our online Animal Studies Courses in New Zealand are the most flexible way to start your new career. With 24 hour access, you can learn when it suits you with the full support of experienced tutors. Payment plans are available to spread the costs. There’s nothing to stop you trying these courses out to see which one is right for you and the area you’d like to specialise in. 

Take the first step in your new career today!


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